Outliving Your Mother, What’s Next?

As my birthday approaches, I cannot help but think about the fact that this year I will have outlived my mother. She lived only 2 months past her 56th year. Her life cut short sped up mine. As a woman just entering my 20’s, I had no time to lose. I subconsciously put my life into fast gear and by the time my father died 6 years later, I had already zoomed through my graduate studies, married, opened a private practice, given birth to two beautiful daughters, moved cross country and bought my first home.

I cannot remember ever thinking about my days as a grandmother or what my life would be like as an older woman. I had no long horizon, no vision of what life after 60 would look like for me. I didn’t plan, or save, or wait on any moment that I wanted to experience later. There was no later, only now.

It occurs to me that I had the good fortune of having less expectation for my 2nd chapter. I did not spend a lifetime waiting to retire, move to the country or travel with a new lover. Any need I had for adventure, fulfillment or fun, I played out as it bubbled up with no ability or desire for delayed gratification.

As I think back on my life’s choices, I have little or no regrets. Besides wishing I had saved just a little of that hard worked for inheritance from my father, I would do it all again.

So that leaves me here now. Continually searching and seeking a life of perpetual joy and meaning, as little pain and suffering as possible, and a huge sense of gratitude for where I sit — in good health, closely surrounded by my family and loved ones, living in a most beautiful setting and full of more energy, vision and purpose than ever. Getting older has not deterred my optimism or my desire for pushing the envelope on life.

I still do not have a clear image of what I will be like as a grandmother, or what my future will look like down the road. I still believe in living every day with great wonder and with an effort to making a difference. In some ways, from this birthday forward, I will be living life with extra zeal — for my mother and me.


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1 Response to Outliving Your Mother, What’s Next?

  1. Chris Hackman says:

    Dear Sharon,

    As you might or might not know, I have lost my daughter of 21 years to brain cancer. All Drs to date, with the exception of the Assistant Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Delaware have told us for the past twelve years (since chemotherapy stopped the growth of the tumor) that the cancer would not kill her. Of course she would have to live the rest of her with the damage caused, but the tumor would not kill her. Several years ago (for the first time) they told us that the tumor had resumed growth and she underwent another five months of chemo. Again, they said the growth had stopped and she would lead a “normal” life. On 19 July 2013, she died in her sleep. As we await the neuropathologist’s report. The initial autopsy suggests that pressure on the pons could have simply told her heart to stop.

    Sharon, we have known eachother for decades, I’ve always thought as friends.

    Your parents were taken too early, by 30-40 years at least. I am very, very sorry for you’re supreme loss. I cannot imagine. But as short as your time was cut short, it follows the “natural” timeline of parent before child.

    I read all of your posts and am very proud of all you have done in your life, especially dedicating it to improving the lives of others. There is no more noble persuit.

    In your experience, how does a parent deal with losing a child, especially one who the parent has cared for since they were nine years old. I cannot describe the whole Lisa’s death has left in my heart, nor can I describe the questions I have about decisions I could have or should have made about second opinions or other specialists; questions that will haunt both my wife and I for the rest of our lives?


    Your friend,

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